Napa Grapes and Vineyards

Are they ready to be pressed? Or are they escaping?

Leftovers from a press…stems and dried up skins…yum.

These are about ready.

Lots and lots of ready grapes.

O’Brien Winery makes some fine red wines. Try it sometime.

After all, what winery doesn’t need a chandelier? There is a story but the photo says it all.

Leaves are turning and grapes are hanging.

California Capital Airshow

Check out this airshow next year in Sacramento, California for an amazing display and performance of aircraft. This airplane, a KC-135, was flown here by a friend from the Iowa Air National Guard in Sioux City, Iowa.

The B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber

The Patriots L-39 Jet Team

The F-22 Raptor…who did amazing things you wouldn’t think an aircraft could do.

The USAF Thunderbirds Jet Demo Team

The F-22 Raptor, the F-86 Sabre and a P-51 Mustang in a Heritage Flight

Flying over us…

The Thunderbirds during their airshow.

Easier Flight Tips

If you’re not taking the ferry, and you want some tips for an easier flight…check these out.

Airlines update prices for their online tickets about every 15 minutes. This leaves you a very small window in which to get the best prices. Tuesdays and Thursdays are the best days of the week to buy tickets. Prices will be higher on Friday through Monday.

Make copies of all your important documents before going, from passports to credit cards to itinerary. Then leave copies at home with someone you can contact.

Remember to take all stickers or tags off your luggage from previous trips. This will lessen your bag going to Seattle when you really wanted it to end up with you in Sienna.
Check to see if your airline charges more for checked luggage at the ticket counter than if you checked it online. You can pay for your checked bag 24 hours in advance from home, usually a cheaper cost.

Upcoming Festivals

If you are headed to London, don’t miss the annual Mayor’s Thames Festival September 12 to 13. Food, dancing, music, fireworks, a night carnival and river pageant highlight this festival. Check it out at www.thamesfestival.org/weekend/highlights.
If Austria is your destination, head to the city of St. Johann for the Dumpling Festival September 19. A total of 22 different types of dumplings will be served and an estimated 20,000 eaten. Apparently the dough balls are made according to traditional recipes.
Go to www.ferienregion.at for more info.
Want some October festival in the US? Fredericksburg, Texas, will celebrate its German heritage this year with an Oktoberfest from October 2 to 4. The motto of this year’s festival, a little cousin to the famous beer bash in Munich, is “Plenty of Gemuetlichkeit”, a German word meaning “congeniality”, sort of.
New Braunfels, Texas, will hold its 49th Wurstfest from October 30 to November 8.
Check out www.oktoberbestinfbg.com or www.wurstfest.com.

Mt. Diablo State Park

Supposedly you can see from the Golden Gate to the High Sierra to the Central Valley from atop Mt. Diablo.

One of California’s Jays sits in the tree above. Can you spot him?

The top…

Geographers claim hikers can see more of the earth’s surface from the top of Mt. Diablo than from any other peak in the world with only one exception…Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa.

Considering the relatively short height, 3,849 feet, you wonder why? The mountain rises solo and very abruptly from its surroundings. Combined with the fact that the land surrounding it, the San Francisco Bay and Central Valley, are nearly flat makes the far reaching panorama all the more impressive. Therefore, quite the lengthy view.
You climb over and through bizarre, wind sculpted rock formations along the way to the summit. This area is called Rock City.

The mountain is also different in that you climb over successively older and older rocks on the way to the summit, which is the exact opposite of the usual progression. The rocks that long ago formed an ancient sea bed have been tilted upside down and pushed up by hard red Franciscan rocks.
All in all…an impressive place with an amazing view. Today we could see San Francisco, the Golden Gate, the Central Valley and the High Sierras…depending which way we looked. It was almost too clear to get good photos!

Walt Disney World

Thinking about Disney World this fall or winter? Want to make sure you get to see the parades, fireworks and other evening spectacles? Everyone knows their shows are fabulous so of course everyone wants to watch them. This means crowds of people everywhere you want to be, right?

Want some insider tips?

Know your show times… IllumiNations runs every night at Epcot at 9. Parades and fireworks can vary as they are more frequent in summer and during holidays. If you are visiting in the off season, check those times and plan accordingly. You can visit Disney’s calendar page, enter the date you are visiting and the whole day’s entertainment schedule will pop up.

Timing is key… If you want to sit curbside for a parade, arrive at least 45 minutes early. For Fantasmic! you’ll need to be at the stadium an hour early on a busy day.

Location…Location… The crowds are always thinner in Frontierland than along Main Street. The bridge between Tomorrowland and Main Street is the perfect place to watch Tinker Bell’s flight and the fireworks. The lagoon at Illulminations has plenty of good viewing, but make sure you’re not under a tree that will limit your view of the fireworks. Know what to expect… Mickey rides the first float at the Magic Kingdom, so don’t run late if you want to see him. The final fireworks salvo at Illuminations is not to be missed.

On a budget… Don’t pay for park-hopper tickets just so you can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks. Instead stop by the beach at the Polynesian Resort across the Seven Seas Lagoon. You won’t be able to see the parade from here but the fireworks view is spectacular. Plus a beach is more comfortable than a curb! And if you have little ones, the noise level is much better.